London: Researchers have revealed how a mutation in a single gene is responsible for the inability of neurons to effectively pass along appetite suppressing signals from the body to the right place in the brain, which results in obesity caused by a voracious appetite. Researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center suggested there might be a way to stimulate expression of that gene to treat obesity caused by uncontrolled eating.The research team specifically found that a mutation in the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf) gene in mice does not allow brain neurons to effectively pass leptin and insulin chemical signals through the brain.In humans, these hormones, which are released in the body after a person eats, are designed to “tell” the body to stop eating. But if the signals fail to reach correct locations in the hypothalamus, the area in the brain that signals satiety, eating continues.“This is the first time protein synthesis in dendrites, tree-like extensions of neurons, has been found to be critical for control of weight,” said the study’s senior investigator, Baoji Xu, Ph.D., an associate professor of pharmacology and physiology at Georgetown.“This discovery may open up novel strategies to help the brain control body weight,” he noted.Xu has long investigated the Bdnf gene. He has found that the gene produces a growth factor that controls communication between neurons.
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